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Parkview to honor '96 state title team Friday night

LILBURN - Before anyone had ever heard of some kid named Jeff Francoeur, there was another Parkview baseball team that made some history of its own.

The 1996 Parkview Panthers won the school's first-ever state title, and on Friday night the team will be honored in a 10th-anniversary celebration before Parkview's 7:30 p.m. game against Clay-Chalkville (Ala.).

"It's something special for our community," said current Parkview head coach Chan Brown. "Obviously, that was the first state championship for our baseball program. And that was the team that kind of started the whole thing."

The team featured 13 players who would go on to play college baseball, including current New York Mets prospect Jeff Keppinger, who is trying to earn a roster spot with the big-league club.

Brown said the festivities, which will be in between the junior varsity game and the 7:30 p.m. varsity game, will feature player introductions for all the former Panthers in attendance. There will be then a roped-off area down the right-field line for the 1996 team to gather and watch the game.

"For myself, the coaching staff and the players, we're looking forward to the guys coming back," Brown said. "And anytime (former head coach Buck Buchanan) comes back, it's going to special."

- Corey Clark